Saturday, August 25, 2012

Say Cheese! Out of the Blue, E-Square, Pune

Name: Out of the Blue

Location: E-square, Pune

Date of Visit: 24th August, 2012 (Dinner)

Birthdays are a very big deal in my family. When we were growing up, we would make cards with glitter, sketch pens and even write little poems for my father about how he was the best dad in the world. All that is gone now since we are able to afford a real gift; Though, I still think he preferred the handmade cards. He misses all the attention his little girls used to shower on him. He often finds us texting while he talks to us now. So, last evening I decided to leave my phone back when we were leaving for Out of the Blue for his birthday dinner.

In many ways, our dinner at Out of the Blue last evening was a family reunion. In fewer words, the fondue and wine brought us together again. Everyone stopped texting and enjoyed the time together, in that moment at Out of The Blue. The setting was perfect. Wooden tables with little candle lamps, mood lighting and a comfortable low sitting area. I loved this arrangement; you take off your shoes and climb into one of these booths, stretch your legs and relax. I would’ve loved it if the ambience was perfect but there were two problems. First, the live music was way too loud and second, with that setting on a Friday evening, the guests were loud and the place was very noisy.

We made our peace with that and ordered for OTB cracked pepper fondue, a house specialty but we made the mistake of asking for a wine to go with the fondue. For a minute there I felt we were speaking gibberish because the waiter seemed so confused. He not only did not know what wine would go well with the fondue but also did not know which wines they served or which ones were available that day. He kept forcing us to buy Pearl bay, a South African wine but otherwise he was just clueless. The wine list was limited; it mostly included Indian brands like Reveila, OTB’s House brand, Kingfisher (yes, they make wine) and a few South African wines. Reisling was listed but not available. Each time we chose something from the wine list, ‘SIBA’ our waiter would go to the bar and return empty handed with a sorry face. After he made three trips to the bar, I began to lose my cool and told him, ‘just bring us what you have in white’. He almost ruined the evening, missed by an inch.

For other choices on the menu, to be honest, those who haven’t been to OTB in Mumbai won’t be disappointed to see this menu. I was slightly disappointed, be it fondue, soups, salads or main course, the menu had limited choice when compared with OTB Mumbai. Nonetheless, they made up for it in taste. You don’t care how limited the choice is as long as every item that is served to you tastes good.

It will be an inexcusable fault if I said the fondue, as usual, at OTB tastes good. That OTB fondue does not taste good, it tastes awesome. I agree it is very tough to go wrong when you are serving warm, melted cheese in a bowl to dip fresh, crispy bread in, but OTB does it with flair. I’ve trained, so I know, there are a lot of things that can go wrong with a fondue; the proportions of cheese, the proportion of cheese to wine and garlic in it, the cheese could be stale, its flavor may not be up to the mark. There was no such flaw in the OTB fondue, it was right, and it made the evening right.

It was beautiful, all four of us together, dipping our bread and sipping the wine, relaxed. Conversation and fondue flow easy, that’s the great thing about it, with fondue, you interact even when you’re not talking. Even though I consider fondue a very romantic meal, last night made me realize it is for family, for friends and all the people you love. You didn’t think we were going to stop at one, did you? We called for the chicken and ham fondue next. The chicken was juicy and supple, so was the ham. It is one thing to invite bloggers and serve great food and it is another thing to maintain that quality for every guest who comes to dine.

We were too full after two fondues to have the main course as well. Instead, we decided to split one vegetarian and one non-vegetarian dish between the four of us. We went for Prawn aglio olio from the charcoal grill selection and porcini mushroom risotto. It is very rare to find consistency in restaurants. Consistency, in terms of great taste between dishes, meals over a period of time and even branches of a brand. Every dish in that meal was beautiful.

The porcini mushroom risotto was creamy, subtle in flavour, and the prawns were juicy and full of flavour. We did not have the chocolate fondue they serve because we still had a cake to cut. From my previous experiences I know that OTB serves good dessert.

That Thing About This Place is that I have begun to trust OTB as a brand. This is hard to achieve and even harder to maintain. I hope that they will maintain this quality and teach their staff about the wines they serve.

Ambience: 7/ 10 Good

Value For money: 7/ 10 Good

Menu: 7/10 Good

Service: 6/10 Average

Food: 8/ 10 Very Good

That Thing About This Place: 8/ 10 Very Good

Good Ambience + Good Value For Money + Good Menu + Average Service + Very Good Food + Very Good That Thing About This Place = Good

Rating: 7/ 10

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